So Abby and I rented G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra to see if it is as truly awful as everyone says. And the verdict is: yes, it's pretty bad. Thankfully, it's not unwatchably bad. I didn't want to gouge my eyes out or just turn it off and walk away (like we did with Shrink earlier this week). But it hinges on some pretty stupid ideas.
And I blame the director for all of it. The film is a study in poor execution. It hits all the right beats, but it stumbles over itself. There's a grace and poise to some of the action sequences, but there's a whole lot of senseless chaos as well. There are huge special effects sequences, but they all look really, really fake. Every single plot twist was telegraphed; every plot point was overstated. Really, for me the unintentional laughs started with the fancy Hasbro production logo.
Main themes of the script include: becoming evil means dying your hair black and donning glasses. Or burning your face and wearing some kind of mask. What else... oh yeah, science is evil. And intelligent women don't believe in emotions. It's basically an affront against nerds, and who do they think is going to see this movie if not nerds? On a storytelling level, there were no fewer than seven unnecessary flashback sequences (eight if you count Baroness's frequent flitting remembrances of a better time with Duke). Cobra Commander controls the world by brainwashing all of his minions with nano-technology (seriously...). He's the only real bad-guy in the movie. Well, Destro started out bad, then he became a pawn... and Storm Shadow was bad, because his rivalry with Snake Eyes needed to be a plot point for some reason... something to do with honor and swordplay and being Japanese. Seriously...
The film was horribly miscast--Joseph Gordon-Levitt is a fine actor, but he's not menacing. His character was a blatant rip-off of Darth Vader. Channing Tatum looked the part for Duke, but he didn't do anything outside the typical grizzled soldier routine. Baroness was okay--Sienna Miller is not exactly a powerhouse of acting prowess, but she filled her bustier... erm, role well enough (she did quite well when you look at the script--during a terrorist attack she stopped to tell a woman "nice shoes"... seriously...). But Marlon Wayans as Ripcord? Really? You made an action movie and your first instinct was "we need us a Wayans"? That was bad, but not egregious. Brendan Fraser as Sgt. Slaughter was egregious. Jonathan Price (British accent and all) as the President of the United States was egregious.
The design was over-the-top to the point of laughable, like the rest of it. And without any sense of coordination--at the end we have Cobra Commander and Destro and from a distance they looked exactly alike.
I'm sad at the potential--there were lots of little moments that I thought could have had some weight if done correctly. Such as the Baroness's redemption at the end: she's in prison (oh yeah, spoiler alert) and says she'll never get out because of all the horrible things she's done, but Duke says it wasn't really her, they kiss, yay! It could have been a little darker, a little heavier if she had said something instead that all the horrible things she had done really were her--she might not have started out as the kind of person who would kill people, but she is now, and she's not going back. You know, character arc, that kind of thing.
But what should I really expect from a Hasbro production?
Potential alternate title: "Hasbro, Will Travel"